Ugh. I hate this topic. I avoid this, but I have to take a pause and recognize how powerful a tool that self disclosure is. A tool that I would highly recommend trying, but have to admit that I fail at it frequently. So my thoughts on this subject are mostly academic, my attempts at this have been almost hilarious, and the results mixed. However, looking back, I see that some of my greatest progress in my journey has been the times when I have been willing to disclose the personal struggles that are preventing me from my next level of progression.
What is self-disclosure? I learned this concept in a college course on interpersonal communications. I studied communications in an undergraduate program. In this course, we were put into uncomfortable situations and asked to reveal personal views, feelings, concerns about random topics. The instructor was bold, this could really get uncomfortable and there were occasions when a student in the class would break down in tears or reveal something really troubling! The idea has stuck with me for a long time, I come back to it now and again because I think I could sense some value in what the process of self-disclosure could bring. This course went through several mechanisms for self-disclosure and I would like to apply them to our quest to improve upon ourselves with the establishment of life long habits.
The first is being willing to disclose to yourself a harsh reality. I think this could be the hardest concept, at least for me. When you are wrong, or heading down a bad path you are usually the last to know. Everyone around you that is detached from your immediate problems can see the reality much more clearly than you. Sort of like the theory of relativity. You think that you are heading on a straight course and improving – yet anyone looking at you from a long distance away can see that you are actually plummeting downhill fast. Sometimes we need to look objectively at the results we are getting and just admit that we are wrong. Hard to do. Personal example, I needed to start losing weight as the last few years had slowly impacted me and all the travel was causing me to gain weight until I got to the point where the results were obvious – I could no longer fit into my clothes! Still, I kept trying to fool myself. I was trying a few things to try to improve and kept trying to convince myself that those activities were working – yet at the end of the day when the largest size pants in my wardrobe does not fit – I have to admit that what I am doing is not working. Admitting to yourself that you have a problem is not easy, but if you take a look at the cold hard facts and look at them objectively as possible, you can start to realize that you might be wrong. Then you can start to disclose to yourself that there is a problem, that you have a challenge to overcome, that you need to change your behavior to improve. I had to have this tough conversation with myself, and once I did, I felt much better about trying to achieve something new. However, self-disclosure rarely works by itself.
When you finally know you have a problem, which is the case for my example, I had to admit that to other people. Not to make them uncomfortable but to ask for their help. For me personally, this is the hardest concept of self-disclosure. I rarely will ask for help, and I have to take a deep breath and swallow that bitter pill every time that I do. I have learned, that for me, the best way to ask for help is to tell the other person what you have discovered is wrong with your behavior, your process, your routine. Get that other persons feedback and then ask for their perspective, guidance, advice on how and what to improve. Being willing to self-disclose in this type of situation means that you are serious about making a change. In my example of weight loss, I had to admit that what I was doing was not working. Clearly. The results were the results. I had to talk to other people, reveal my struggle and get advice. Through that process I started to learn, really learn, and understand from other outside sources what other approaches that I could take to solve my personal challenge. A famous Einstein quote illustrates the need for this – “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Finally, the last form of self-disclosure is more public in nature. This can be really annoying if done too much, so be careful. I learned that through hard experience! However, I have discovered when the person that I am in my own head starts to match the public persona that I have created – I have more peace in my life. Hard thing to admit, the comforting concept is that most studies in human psychology will back this concept up. We create a persona for ourselves that we defend publically. Sometimes I will try to mask unhealthy behaviors behind this view of myself that is just not based on reality. Only when I am able to freely accept that the mind typing this blog is the same mind that created this persona that others see have I started to understand how I can make progress in correcting some behaviors that I do not like. I spend a lot of unnecessary energy worried about this, and it is a relief to just give up on that and freely self-disclose where I am at in my struggle with others. I have found that many people struggle with the same things, I am not alone, and with that I have found the courage and strength to focus on improvements and then share those with others.
In reading through this blog, I realize that the topic area is potentially sensitive. Growing up, I learned to hide emotions, feelings and only reveal them in the safest of circumstances. I am not sure why that is the case, certainly it was not how I was raised, it is probably just part of my DNA. My overactive self-preservation instinct perhaps. However, self-disclosure is not going to kill, maim or hurt me anyway. It might make me feel embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty but those are emotions can be conquered with forward progress and are sometimes the price to pay in order to get to a real solution, or to realize that vision of the future.
Guy Reams (388)
125 Days Left to 1st Marathon